The CI Dakota United Hawks adaptive floor hockey team had a strong showing at the state tournament March 18 and 19, finishing second behind the undefeated Anoka/ Hennepin Mustangs.
"We had an amazing season capped off by a run all the way to the title game," said coach Brett Kosidowski. "Last year we lost six senior players; among those, four started and we didn't know what to expect."
Two new players took the floor this year for the first time, Carl Fagre, an eighth-grader, and Joe Sandey, a sophomore. But despite the unknowns, the Hawks proved to be tough to beat during the regular season. The team averaged 12 goals a game, Kosidowski said, but only gave up an average of three per game. Hastings native Andy Herrmann, a senior, was the team's starting goalie. Until the state championship game, the Hawks were undefeated.
The first state tournament game put the Hawks up against Mounds View, and the Hawks advanced with a 12-3 victory. On Saturday, the team faced two strong defensive teams. The first was Maple Grove, a team that has had only three losses all season, two of which were to the team that would claim the state championship.
"They played us close all the way until three minutes were left in the second period," Kosidowski said. "Our endurance and team depth finally got the best of them, and we overcame their strong team with a final score of 8-1."
The championship game against Anoka started with an early goal for the Mustangs, who have been undefeated for two seasons. Right away, Kosidowski called a time out.
"We explained that all the training we had accomplished with the alumni at practice the previous two weeks was to prepare them for this game against a tough opponent," he said.
The talk was effective. The Hawks scored five goals in a row to lead the Mustangs 5-1. They couldn't hold on to the lead, though, and the Mustangs tied the game 5-5 by the end of the first period.
The second period wasn't kind to the Hawks. Two of their six starting players were taken out due to injury. Senior Rashawn Carrol suffered a knee injury and Fagre suffered a high ankle sprain. The losses crippled the Hawks, and Anoka ran away with a 13-6 victory.
"Even though the season didn't end with us hoisting the first-place trophy, we did indeed consider ourselves champions because of the attitude and commitment we displayed all season long," Kosidowski said.
He recalled a game in February the Hawks played against the Winona Winhawks, when the team decided to let one of the Winona players get the puck and score in front of his home crowd because it was his birthday that day.
"Our team talked about character, sportsmanship, and what it truly means to be a champion because of that moment, and it will forever be enshrined in my heart as the greatest moment in my sporting career," Kosidowski said.